After coming out of a two-week stupefaction which was instigated by an unexpected and highly unwelcome summer cold, you’ll understand that it took quite a while to get the engine running again. And it didn’t happen before the motor coughed its guts out. The idea of “living life” took a backseat to daytime TV (which, by the way, I don’t recommend. )
I remember just sitting there with the apple core in one hand and the TV remote in the other. I was in my wife-beater t-shirt, hair all on end, with a runny nose, staring out of one pulsing “pink-eye” inflamed eyeball at the TV set, as the Fresh Prince joked with his unsmiling uncle about something-or-0ther. I thought maybe I should change the channel or just shut it off. Maybe I should put the now-brown apple core in the garbage. Instead, I sat there, mouth half-open (otherwise I would have suffocated from the nasal impediment), and the apple core just dangled there, not quite leaving my lax fingers, while I endured the crappy laugh-track-enhanced comedy. For a full twenty minutes.
The whole two weeks was a write-off. I spent the time sleeping. Or waking up in a panic, as my pillow suddenly got threatened by an end run from my nose. I bought food and didn’t eat it. The lazy-boy chair endured countless hours accommodating my zombie ass. I’m telling you – I was freaking miserable.
I hadn’t been sick like this for…what was it? Three years. At least. And the only thing I could think was “man, I really need a woman to take care of me right now.”
That’s right. I said it.
Eventually though – thank God – you come out of it. Eventually you can taste stuff again. Smell it. The chirping of birds no longer annoys you. You sort of like it. The sun is no longer a hammer to your eyeballs. Instead it’s pleasant. Inviting. And warm.
The night before the day I was to go back to work, there was one last nightmare. I was back working in a factory, doing excruciatingly dull labour. The bright glare of the unforgiving factory lights shone down on the bare metal of the car skeletons as they screeched their way slowly down the line. Bright welding sparks burnt your retinas, throwing everything into a momentary carbon of reality: black was white, and vice versa, for only a moment. The pounding of hammers thrummed in your ears, in counterpoint to the unending anxious wail of hydraulic lifts. A cloud of dirt smudged the air, making it difficult though not impossible to find your way to wherever it was your were going.
Frowning, I told my boss I was getting ready to throw up (I wasn’t) and that I had a bad headache (I didn’t). I just wanted out of there. Now. And eventually, he agreed to let me go home. It was basically a flash-back to so many days and nights in a car factory from years ago. Everything was the same, and it was all serving to create a mental pain that was equal to the physical illness just recently endured.
Upon waking, there was this sense of ambiguity: thankfulness that it was all just a dream and I didn’t really work there anymore – and a painful awareness that I needed to be thankful for the relatively great job that I have now. It was one of those “you know you should be thankful, right?” moments. Where you know what’s right, but there’s a part of you that says “yabbut….” Yes, this is a great job. Yes, I don’t have to punch a clock. Yes, I get to use my mind. Yes…yes….yes…..
Still. Peter Pan was insistent: the nine-to-five deal is for other people. Not us. We need to fly out of here. Create, sing, dance, write…..live.
Last night, another dream clipped my consciousness. It was another one of those flying dreams. Where you have to get somewhere and the only way to do it is hold your breath, hold out your arms, wait for a slight breeze and…… lift off of the ground. You know you can do it, too. In the dream reality, you’ve done it many times before. But it’s been a long time since you last dreamt this, so you know you’re out of practice. (I suppose that’s it, too – you realize, in the middle of your dream, that you’ve dreamt this before. Kind of odd, having that awareness in the middle of a dream). So you try and you keep trying and eventually…your body rises and you find yourself awkwardly steering yourself in the right direction.
Before you know it, you’re skimming rooftops and meandering wherever your thoughts take you. It’s invigorating, breathtaking, magical.
Upon waking, you understand the message of it, too. In your religious days, you remember hearing the pastor quote a verse “all things are possible”. The dream, and the morning sun proves the point: you only need to have the will.
And this morning, this sunny Monday morning, you know it’s true.
And your thoughts catch the air…..